Glittering blue, Lake Starnberg lies at the gates of Munich, surrounded by villas, Alpine scenery and Aperol Spritz preparation facilities. 58 square kilometers of postcard Bavaria. Even in October, at the end of the season, people still rush through the idyll: swimmers, stand-up paddlers, sailors, motorboat drivers, tourists on 400-ton steamers. Lake Starnberg is one for everyone.
And therein lies the crux. There are more and more hobby captains on the fifth largest lake in Germany. A widespread phenomenon that is particularly acute in the “bathtub” of Munich residents – especially since not everyone knows the rules. Stand-up paddlers with golden retrievers on board splash into the nature reserve, courageous teenagers jump from the jetty in front of the steamers, motorboat drivers rattle across the sailing regatta. And there are more and more of them. Although the number of private boats with combustion engines is limited to 280, the number of electric boats is not. 1687 are now approved.
This leads to a situation that is reminiscent of Indian road junctions on peak days – and doesn’t always end well. Last summer, an unfortunate driver on a 119 horsepower motorboat ran over a swimmer who was drifting on the open lake. The man died. It took a specially summoned expert and three days to locate it in the depths of the lake. The shock was great – also that you don’t need a boating license on Lake Starnberg, even for high-horsepower motorboats.
This could change soon. The Starnberg district wants to curb the Wild West behavior – and has turned to Munich for help, where the rules are made. The lake belongs to the Free State. From the coming season onwards, the thinking goes, swimmers on the open lake should mark themselves by color and rowers should protect themselves with life jackets. And: No motorboat driver should be out and about without a rag, at least from a certain horsepower rating.
A delicate move. Nobody really wants to mess with the fun-loving residents of Germany’s richest region. She loves motorboating. Here you wait 15 years for a berth for seven years. No wonder the black market is flourishing around the squares. If you’re smart, you can put the entire family on the waiting list for a license – motorboats can also be rented out in a straight line. That’s how nautical nepotism works.
Munich’s ministerial lawyers, on the other hand, have little to counter unsuspecting stand-up paddlers. They enjoy the same rights as swimmers. “Everyone has the right to enjoy the beauty of nature and to relax in the great outdoors”, exults the Bavarian constitution. Taming traffic on the lake doesn’t make this any easier.
He will soon be put into hibernation. The last steamers are sailing this Sunday and things will be quiet from November onwards. Meanwhile, end-of-season business has started for some rental companies. There is a ten percent discount on electric boats and SUPs on the last weekends and a 20 percent discount during the week. One last piece of fun before the Munich bathtub becomes a still life.